Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
SumpPump Monkeys - Destroy the Wavesdotdotdotdot
artworkCleveland's SumpPump Monkeys first official release sports 13 tracks of nontraditional surf based instrumentals. The band's sound ranges from dissonant and distant to thundering and dangerous. Most songs are gloomy, many are dramatic, and most display a significant departure from the pack. Often sci-fi influenced, the darkness and coldness of space and forbidding landscapes permeate these tracks. Reverb, Theramin, samples, and rhythm. SumpPump Monkeys leave you looking over your shoulder. This is not optimistic melodic surf, and certainly not for the faint at heart. If adventures in uncharted territory is your musical thingy, you just might find this up your alley.
Picks: Hot Lava, Koto Deluxe, Kamikaze Plunge, Electronic Formulation of a Crouton, Racer X, Prelude to a Fish, Man Into Space, Arthur's Neural Circuit Malfunction, Riptide, An Amphipod's Bioluminescence, Leviathan, Tractor Beam, Monstero

Track by Track Review


Hot Lava dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Great damped reverb rhythms open this exotic thrasher. This is not your lumbering magma flow from Kilauea to the Pacific, this is a mighty lahar of scorching ash flying down a narrow canyon on its way to your house, where there's no escape from the assault.

Koto Deluxe dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Vibratoed and distant, one guitar drives a mean surf rhythm while another howls with feedback. Then, launching into the song, the pace picks up with a solid beat and haunting melody line. Gloomy and glissandoed, "Koto Deluxe" is pretty cool.

Kamikaze Plunge dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Kamikaze Plunge" is a relentless power trip, a progression number with assault in mind. The melody riff is a nice little thing with an invitingly ominous edge.

Electronic Formulation of a Crouton dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Edgy and pumped up, "Electronic Formulation of a Crouton" is disquieting, uncomfortable in an eerie laboratory kinda way, with nerves on edge and aspirin on the horizon. Pretty intense.

Racer X dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Racer X" is a live take, with an enthusiastic audience begged into participation with hand claps and intense thrash. Big and in-your-face, it's clear that power curves are the order of the day. Nice track.

Prelude to a Fish dotdotdotdot
Victorian Surf (Instrumental)

Dedicated to the "fallen tear" in his eye, and launched by a circular progression on acoustic guitar, this solo acoustic piece is almost Victorian. It has a similar courtliness to portions of the People's "The Epic," but all that changes when the bass comes in and the band rises. This stunning transition is very effective, and the resulting surf epic is most pleasing.

Man Into Space dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Grumbling low tones echo in cold space while a sample from some sci-fi film counts down to the launch, wherein SumpPump Monkeys bump into gear with surf thrash madness.

Arthur's Neural Circuit Malfunction dotdotdotdot
Sci-Fi Surfadelic Tweakery (Instrumental)

A hilarious audio track from a Popular Science short about 16 year old Oakland high schooler Kurt Gouldon's robot Arthur opens the track. It's almost a minute before SumpPump Monkeys arrive on scene with theremin at full tilt, but it's one of the best samples around and very fitting as an entree into the spacial weirdness of this dissonant sci-fi thriller. Not very surfy, but more fun than a barrel of SumpPump Monkeys.

Riptide dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A rippin' surf and slam side from the SumpPump Monkeys. It's a grodie riffin' short board fantasy, quick out of the shoot, and pumped for power. The double picked work is very nice. It comes to a crashing end all too soon.

An Amphipod's Bioluminescence dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

String swipes and grumbly bass thunder under a rising theremin as "An Amphipod's Bioluminescence" evolves into a relentless soundscape estranged from sanity and familiar themes. Dangerous and dark.

Leviathan dotdotdotdot
Antediluvian Surf (Instrumental)

From storm clouds to falling rain, the scenery of "Leviathan" is eerie and flowing, at least until the band gets going. Then, it limbers with the gate of a "Brontosaurus" and the dull thunder of a gray afternoon. Spooky and distant, moody and lethargic, it moves through a murky antediluvian swamp, using heavy drama and deliberate pacing as its primary tools.

Tractor Beam dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Not a cohesive light emanating from Seattle's famous grunge club, but rather a fictitious lanyard pulling you into an unknown space. Gloomy and a little scary.

Monstero dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Tiny beasties romp on a beach where touristas are about to unknowingly become lunch. Oh, wait, that's Jurassic Park 2. This is fluid and surfy, and maybe a little gargantuan. Great drums and a fine riff with ample reverb and adequate gloom.